letters to the editor 88.
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Sir, - The Golden Globe award to the film Paradise Now and its "garnering of a plethora of awards" ("Humanizing terrorism," Editorial, January 18) coincided with a TV program about refugee Tibetan nomads.
When China invaded Tibet, murdering many of its inhabitants and moving its own citizens into Tibet in contradiction of the Geneva Convention, I don't recall either the UN or any world leader complaining. The UN did not set up a permanent Tibetan refugee organization, there is no Tibetan official with observer status in the UN, and no annual UN "Support the Tibetans Day." The EU does not constantly send delegations to China or Tibet to try and resolve any differences the cowed Tibetans might have with their Chinese occupiers.
Strange, indeed, that with all the troubles in the world the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should take up so much of the UN's and EU's agenda, and always to Israel's detriment.
Sir, - Re "Think tank calls for international supervision of Temple Mount" (January 18): Before Israel ever considers international supervision of any site in the country, it should remember that after 1948, when Arabs were destroying Jewish synagogues in Jerusalem, desecrating Jewish cemeteries and denying Jews access to the Western Wall, the international community did nothing. It will tilt again in favor of the Arabs if Israel gives it the chance.
A tad disingenuous?
Sir, - Keshev, an Israeli organization that monitors the local media, has issued a report condemning the media's one-sided coverage of the disengagement process, including the exaggerated portrayal of the settlers ("Israeli media failed to cover disengagement properly, report says," January 18).
Kudos to Keshev for striking a blow for freedom of expression, but the organization itself is at least partly responsible for the situation, having been at the forefront of the campaign that succeeded in hounding Arutz Sheva off the air in 2003. Keshev monitored Arutz Sheva broadcasts 24 hours a day, seizing on anything that might carry the remotest whiff of "incitement" and trumpeting it as a danger to Israeli democracy.
In those days Arutz Sheva, as the only real alternative to the prevailing secular-leftist tone of Israel Radio, held a 17-percent share of the listening public. The broadcasting elite couldn't tolerate a situation that provided work, listeners and advertising income for the "other," and Keshev, which was well connected to this elite, did its dirty work for it.
Now that the monopoly has been restored and the disengagement from Gaza and Northern Samaria has been carried out, it's no sweat for Keshev to say, "Hmm, the media was a tad unfair; do clean up your act, chaps."
Why I stayed away
Sir, - Contrary to "Wiesenthal director boycotts Holocaust event" (January 18), which claimed that I boycotted an evening to honor individuals who rescued Jews during the Holocaust because David Kranzler was among the scheduled speakers, I want to make clear that the reason I changed my original decision to speak was that I found out the organizers planned to honor Kranzler at the event.
Post readers who have followed the ongoing attempts by Kranzler et Rosenblum to portray me as a charlatan willing to falsify my own research in order to increase book sales by lying about the rescue efforts of American Orthodox activists during the Shoah - while presenting their own seriously-flawed and ideologically-based account of those activities - no doubt understand why I could under no circumstances participate in any event at which such a person was honored for his "historical research."
Those brave individuals who did so much to save Jews during the Holocaust indeed deserve recognition and gratitude, but honoring hagiographers who lack all objectivity and mold their conclusions based on ideological affinity as opposed to accurate research of the historical events hardly contributes something positive to that goal.
Simon Wiesenthal CenterIsrael Office
Sir, - As opposed to what Efraim Zuroff claims, Prof. David Kranzler did not accuse Zuroff of falsifying research on the Va'ad Hatzala to increase sales of his book on the Va'ad. Rather, Zuroff was accused of falsely representing the contents of his own book in a series of inflammatory interviews in order to hype sales.
For a full account of the dispute see "Anatomy of a Slander" www.jewishmediaresources.org
Sir, - Kudos to Caroline Glick for her brilliant analysis of our situation ("The ethos of national security," January 13). Too bad she isn't a member of the government. She could teach them a thing or two.
Sir, - Caroline Glick was absolutely correct to call the word "disengagement" a "psychological concept." It is a polite way of saying "strategic retreat," or just plain "retreat." So what? In a war it is sometimes essential to consolidate your forces. The results of disengagement so far:
Countless lives of both settlers and soldiers have been saved.
The PLO has been thrown into disarray and, for the first time, must choose in which direction its future lies.
It has produced a middle-of-the-road party that seems to have captured the imagination of the Israeli public.
It has strengthened our ties with the US and Europe.
Stable, honest government
Sir, - In his criticism of a presidential system Emanuele Ottolenghi overlooks a crucial point ("Be careful what you wish for - you might get it," January 18). Direct election of the prime minister failed to achieve its desired ends because it was not accompanied by electoral reform.
Since 1995 I have campaigned not only for a presidential system of government but also for parliamentary reform whereby MKs would be individually elected by and accountable to the voters in constituency elections. They would be excluded from the president's cabinet to close this door not only to corruption, but to the tyranny that exists under Israel's present system of "prime ministerial government." (Corruption and tyranny result from the prime minister's power to bestow ministerial posts and other plums upon MKs, especially from his own party. This is how Ariel Sharon was able to "persuade" 23 out of 40 Likud MKs to violate their campaign pledge against Labor's "unilateral disengagement" policy.)
Under Israel's present system of multi-party cabinet government the average duration of a government since 1948 has been less than two years, making the pursuit of coherent and long-range national policies virtually impossible. Is it any wonder that MKs seldom attend the Knesset or even Knesset committee meetings; that the Knesset has become a haven for job-seekers; that Israel's government ranks second in corruption among developed nations? Can anyone name a democratic state in which a party that has never competed in an election gains control of the government and the country, as Kadima has here?
Israel desperately needs a presidential system of government checked and balanced by an independent legislature, one whose members are personally accountable to the people and not to party oligarchs.
Foundation for Constitutional Democracy
Sir, - Re "Tel Aviv residents want 'Gaza-type pullout' from Hebron" (January 17): It would appear that Talya Halkin spoke only with Tel Avivians who live in the vicinity of Sheinkin St. We live next to Tel Aviv University and carried out a little survey on our street. Over half the residents thought it was wrong to treat Hebron as if it were a foreign country.
At the start of World War II the Germans drove the Czechoslovakians out of the Sudetenland. At the end of the war the Czechs never asked any questions about who the property belonged to. They simply threw all the Sudeten Germans out.
Except for a brief period after the 1929 Arab murder of Hebron's Jewish community, Jews have lived there continuously for thousands of years. Today Jews living in Hebron do so in properties that have been bought and paid for by Jews. They have every right to be there if they so want.
Out of place
Sir, - Re your including among examples of crime a picture of police arresting an anti-disengagement protester ("Police chief warns of spreading juvenile, organized crime," January 17): If that is your thinking, then Natan Sharansky is a criminal, and so is Nelson Mandela!
I think what you did was a journalistic crime.
HARRY W. WEBER
Sir, - I just wanted to praise your paper and tell you that I watch the Jewish news on TV. I'm a Gentile, but my prayers are for God's people, Israel. I'm not much, but I know that my prayers do reach God.
I wish all Jewish people on the earth the best.
Sir, - Israel's existence as the Jewish state has been like Oscar Wilde's gothic tale The Picture of Dorian Gray, in which the protagonist's true character is revealed only on the canvas of a hidden painting that shows what he really is.
The abject poverty and despair of Palestinian refugee camps depict the true character of modern, man-made Israel.
ANNE SELDEN ANNAB
Sir, - "Pope worried by global upsurge in anti-Semitism" (January 17).
Kol hakavod to the pope.
But maybe he should start off by having a word with his man in Bethlehem, who is no friend of Israel - to put it mildly - and is certainly not helping the peace process.